Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Intercessory Prayer Gifts - Standing in the Gap
We are all called to intercede for our brothers and sisters in this world, however, for some, the Lord has given the gift of intercessory prayer in a special way. Not because the person is "special" (we are all equally loved by God) but simply because it is a particular "mission" that God wants them to focus on and to do for Him. Each person is unique and has certain gifts that stand out more than other gifts and it's good to be able to discern what particular gifts the Lord has given to us so that we can better understand how to use them to help others.
In these times the Lord is calling for intercessory prayer in a powerful way. Differentiating between our duty as Christians to intercede for others and the charism of intercession can help one understand whether they are called in a special way in this area...and many are. I believe this is one of the more common gifts. The question is:
How do we know we are called to this type of prayer in a special way?
Also, are there signs that the Lord is calling us into deeper intercessory prayer? How are we to respond?
First, I'd like to clearly state that we each have spiritual gifts and we all share in the gifts of others. They are used to build the Mystical Body of Christ, of which we are each a part. Some have healing gifts (Father DiOrio comes to mind here), others have supernatural gifts of wisdom (such as Blessed Mother Teresa), words of knowledge, prophecy, teaching gifts, discernment of spirits - the list goes on and on. These gifts are extremely useful today because of the spiritual burden we are under due to the increase of sin in the world. One that the Lord seems to be giving in abundance is the gift of intercessory prayer.
I'll start with the first question. How do we know we are called to intercessory prayer in a deeper way?
Those who have the gift of intercessory prayer tend to have deeply compassionate hearts. It may seem to others that they are overly sensitive but this is a necessary aspect of the gift. Without this sensitivity of the spirit to both God and others the gift cannot develop to the degree God would like it to. Others may consider intercessors to be "overly emotional" and impractical people. They may have mood swings (I will explain this further in another post) and they may seem to "suffer" more than the average person.
Intercessors tend to have a strong "pull" to pray for others. It may even feel like a strong pressure upon the soul. Passages in the Bible such as Moses intercession for for the Israelites during the battle with Amelek stand out for them. "As long as Moses kept his hands raised up, Israel had the better of the fight, but when he let his hands rest, Amelek had the better of the fight." (See Ex. 17:8-13). The passage where Abraham intercedes for intercedes for Sodom tugs at their hearts (See Gn. 18: 16-33) as well as other passages in Scripture such as Jesus' weeping, His Agony in the Garden, His pleading with the Father on the Cross, " Father, forgive them, they know not what they do." Passages such as these burn like a fire in their hearts. They are being called to "stand in the gap" for others.
As for the second question, are there signs that the Lord is calling us to this in a deeper way? Yes, I believe there are. This was recently confirmed to me through a book I was reading. Here are some of the signs:
~ Your heart feels heavily burdened despite the fact that things in your life are running smoothly and there seems to be no valid reason for the burden such as mortal sin. It makes no sense...you confess your sins, love God, pray, and yet your heart is heavy. That is a very common sign of a "prayer burden".
~ You seem to suffer more than the average person and yet there seems to be no logical cause.
~ You have pain in the pit of your stomach that comes and leaves after heavy-duty prayer
~ You get bodily symptoms that make no sense. They come and go (here we are stepping into "words of knowledge" and this can be useful in discerning what you are called to pray for.
~ Names and faces come to your mind over and over again.
~ You have unusual dreams about people or dreams in which you are battling forces of evil.
~ You feel a burning sensation in your body and an inexplicable yearning to pray comes over you.
~ A sense of emergency (like a spiritual 911 call) comes over you. It doesn't let up except through prayer, and you long for "alone time" with God to pray.
~ Offering up Masses and going to Adoration relieves the "spiritual burden" as these are powerful sources of obtaining grace for others.
~ At times it feels as if "the veil of heaven" has parted and you are standing before The Mercy Seat.
~ Tears for no obvious reason.
No doubt there are other signs but the ones I listed above are very common. I asked the Holy Spirit to help me write this post and I hope it is helpful to others. If these things happen to you then you can be assured that God is calling you strongly as an intercessor. The answer is to pray, pray, pray. I'm working on another post on this subject about prayer warriors and how to use this gift.
I pray this post is helpful to others. Thank you, Lord, for these words. May they bless others as they have blessed me (long story).
(This post has been updated - Intercessory Prayer link.)